The previous tournament article had focus on the Draw Your Partner (often abbreviated DYP) format that is the mainstay event in domestic foosball today. A DYP offers a random format that is different every time and gives everyone a chance to win. I also spoke about the Amateur free entry tournament format. I believe this is an essential format giving new players a tournament environment with less pressure that is geared toward improvement. This is an important and essential stepping stone event for creating new tournament players out of recreational foosers. A schedule addresses the specific needs of the player base as a whole, encourages advancement, and builds new players. Make sure to read my related article http://foosballmonk.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-to-run-successful-local-foosball.html Here is an example of a calendar from 2003 Tulsa Foosball.
At this time I had 16 foosball tables in place at the two Tulsa locations. There was a local tournament player base of 80+ players and a recreational player base made up of hundreds of recreational foosers. To be clear, a player base of this size in Tulsa did not happen overnight. Tulsa was the first city outside of Dallas that Tornado placed a table. This information comes from the creator of the Tornado Bob Furr. We talked at length one year at the worlds. He had a foosball newsletter with an article highlighting the expansion to Tulsa in the early 70's. Over the next decade, Tornado foosball took off in the sooner nation. By the late 70's and 80's, there were multiple Foosball halls filled with 20-30 foosball tables and a jukebox. Every pool room, bar, and game room had foosball, Tornadoes coated the town of Tulsa. The 1974 Nationals held in Tulsa at the very cool Camelot hotel. This was biggest tour event at the time, the equivalent of the World Championships today just with a thousand or more people in attendance.
The American entertainment scene was vastly different in the era before video games, computers, the internet, and casino expansions. Pool rooms, bars, and game rooms were numerous, successful, and filled with customers. There were foosball tournaments littering the city. Multiple true foosball halls existed in Tulsa, numerous locations with 20-30 plus glass top Tornadoes and a jukebox. Sometimes a pinball machine or two would be pushed against the wall but no video games, big screens with sports games, or pool tables. It was all about foosball and EVERYONE played, even if just a little. This is when tournament variations like the draw your partner and pick your partner were first invented and passed on through the years.
Great players like Kevin Keeter, Kenny Garwood, and Charlene Agnew ruled the local foosball scene and toured the nation proudly representing Tulsa at the top level of tournament play. The casual player base in America at that time may have numbered well into the hundreds of thousands if not into the millions. This was the height of foosball. These non-tournament players piled quarters on the tables, fueled the massive gross revenue necessary to run a proper vending business, and caused a demand for foosball that lasted until video games began to enter the entertainment market. Technology would slowly transform things in America. Internationally, foosball is gaining popularity. The increasing global interest in foosball could cause a resurgence domestically. Time will tell.
Enough foosball history let us get back to the 2003 tournament calendar. Notice the Saturday event was static, always the same every week. This was the cornerstone of the schedule. The Friday tournament was usually equal in attendance but changed each week. This offered the players variety and essential events important to preparing players for regional events. The variety also gave players something to talk about and plan for, building a “buzz”. The Friday and Saturday tournament would average have around 50 people in attendance with 20-32 players entering the event.
Two events on the 2003 schedule are aimed at new players. The Monday night Free Entry Open Handicap Singles and more importantly the Wednesday night free entry Rookie DYP. Each location had a unique event aimed at encouraging new players in a no risk free entry format with prize money. Entry fees were affordable, by 2003 standards, $3 for Rookie, $5 for Semi-Pro, and $6 for Pro/Master. Now in 2012, $5 is a better starting price point. Prize payouts were beefed up by the cash added to the pot possibly due to the volume of business from the foosers. Negotiating with the locations on matters like revenue division, prize payout adds, and director pay will be the subject of a future article.
Also notice that the weekend the 2003 Texas State Foosball Championship was held I scheduled a vanilla five dollar draw. The $5 draw tournament is just a placeholder event that keeps non-touring players and the host tournament location happy. The $25,000 Texas State Foosball tournament is only 4-5 hrs away, making it a perfect road trip for Tulsa players. I worked at the Texas tournament for many years assisting David Radack and Steve Murray with running the tournament software and calling events. I promoted the Texas tournament by keeping Texas State flyers stocked, placing the event on the Tulsa calendar, and by encouraging players to attend through word of mouth. In turn, promoters and players in Texas were more likely to attend the regional events I held in Tulsa. This healthy cross promotion was good for everyone in the region.
The various events, divisional play, and foosball tournament variations helped spice up a Tulsa calendar filled with 26 tournaments in a 31 day month. HMP stands for house matches the pot. For example, if 18 players entered the $5 draw then $90 were be added to the $90 received in entry fees. Signups always started 30 minutes before the event began. This was because most foosers showed up in the last 10 minutes. Enforcing time standards is important to a successful tournament and players need boundaries to make this happen. Give adequate time for everyone to make it to the location and into the tournament groove. I did allow call in entries as long as people were within 10 minutes of showing up after start time. If someone burned me or caused undo drama I would just no longer take call in's from them on a case by case basis. This allowed me to be flexible enough to maximize turnouts but firm enough to maintain proper time management.
Only a sparse few player bases remain in America that can sustain 6 tournaments a week. A small player base would suffer under such a busy schedule. Attendance would be spread too thin. Generally it is better for new or smaller player bases to have only 1 open tournament night a week. This concentrates the players into one tournament night providing the biggest possible turnout.
Many locations are now running two events on one day to maximize the foos action. One example is the Denver metro area of Colorado. Here it is common for Open Singles to start at 6:00 and a DYP to follow up at 8:30 PM. Having two events allows players to get more foosball bang action into one single night, an important thing to players with busy work and family schedules. Adding one of the following tournament variations to a local weekly draw every week or even once a month can boost attendance, shake up routine formats, and help to create a buzz.
Here is a summary of the tournament variants listed on the calendar.
Open Free Entry Handicap Singles
This tournament was for the new players and seasoned competitors looking for a challenge. This event filled the tables on a night that are typically slow in the bar business. Attendance normally ranged between 7-12 players. Recreational players and spectators would bolster event attendance to 15-20 people. The event was 3/5 games in the winners bracket and 2/3 in the losers bracket. The handicap was based on difference in rank. A pro would give 1 point to a semi-pro, 2 points to a rookie, and 3 points to a beginner. The player giving up the handicap would receive an equal number of starting 5 bar possessions, called drops. So a Pro playing a beginner would spot the player 3 points and receive the first 3 drops. This handicap system fairly leveled the playing field and allowed for more upsets. The entry fee was free and $35 cash paid out to the field. $20 for first $10 for second, and $5 for third.
Pick Your Partner DYP
The Pick Your Partner DYP is a twist on the Open Draw your partner. This was one of the most popular tournament variants next to Open Doubles. The fashion in which a PYP is drawn up allows for randomization while folding in a helping of player's choice. The first person is drawn out at random and is given the first choice to pick from the players signed up for the tournament. The player decides and both players are crossed off of the sign up list. The second random person is drawn and chooses from the remaining players signed up for the tournament. This process continues until there are only two players remaining who are automatically paired up. The last team out gains a bonus handicap of 1 full point spot per game with the opposing team getting the drop.
A couple side notes for Tournament Directors. The tournament director should not coach players. You cannot control what the players do but the tournament director must stay neutral. When someone was unfamiliar with the players I would point out the difference in entry fees. As in the higher the entry fee the higher the rank. This is common sense and not coercion. When writing the names down on the bracket the teams must be seeded in the order they are drawn. The first team decided is placed in the #1 spot at the top bracket and the second team in the #2 spot at the bottom of the bracket. Never take for granted who someone will pick. I have seen the best player in the state go 4th pick because other players decided to take their usual partner, friend, or spouse.
Hawaii 5-0, Goalie's Delight
This event is drawn up exactly like a standard draw your partner. There are two differences in play with this variant. The first difference is that if a team wins any game 5 points to nothing then they win the match, hence the name Hawaii 5-0. The name comes from the popular cop TV show of the same name. Someone would always say "Book'em Dan-O" after a 5-0 victory. The second rule variation is Goalie's delight. If the goalie scores the point, then the goalie is rewarded by getting to start off play of the next ball; in effect stealing the foos from the opposing team, in a make it take it fashion. This variation allowed for incredible upsets, comebacks, and scoring streaks.
Open Doubles and Open Singles
These two formats are invaluable for a veteran player base with multiple Pro and Master players. Open Doubles and Open Singles not only simulates the top level of play but also decides who are the baddest players in town. Aspiring players gained from playing against the best in a more intense tournament situation. Dominant Experts who have grown cocky after upsetting top tier players in a random draw format are usually humbled by a quality Open team. The synergy gained from quality players with great team chemistry cannot be measured. This type of tournament is essential to player bases preparing for doubles in tour events. Steel sharpens steel and this format is all about beating the best and being the best.
Open Events are 3/5 games in the winners, 2/3 games in the losers.The bracket should be seeded according to the governing points system; this is done to minimize the random luck factor and maximize the intensity of play. It is not necessary to seed every team. It was common to seed only the teams with a pro player or higher. Just write the seeded teams down in the proper positions and draw the non-pro teams into the bracket.
It is essential to award bonuses or incentives for lower ranked players. Experts should be enticed by competition but a reward for a great finish is just good business. Paying out to one or two spots past the number of Pro teams accomplishes this. A highest placing Amateur team bonus is a noteworthy achievement in an event with long shot odds of victory. A small amount of cash equal to double the rookie entry fee or free entries into an upcoming event are adequate amateur bonuses. Free entry fee for beginners adds teams to the event and allows new players the chance to compete against the best without donating entry fees.
For nearly 3 years, Trad Powell and Scott Nobles dominated this event in Tulsa. If a team did upset them in the winner’s bracket, they would come back through the losers bracket with a vengeance to double dip for the win. When then #1 player in the world, Tommy Adkisson would come into town from Oklahoma City with a partner. often Sam Dill or Chuck Pistol. The two teams would sometimes decide to split any winnings before the tournament then play solely for bragging rights. Scott blocked Tommy well and Trad had one of the few 5 bars that could equal Tommy. Watching and playing these and other great teams at a local level was invaluable to our player base and raised the bar for everyone. Semi-Pro Doubles was not as daunting after battling Pro-Masters week after week.
The Open Draw Your Partner format is a popular and versatile format that has become over-used in the local tournament scene. The Open DYP format is designed to give everyone a chance to win and have fun, regardless of skill level, but the format does not encourage the best teams in the area to play against each other at the highest level of play. Events like Open Doubles and Singles are important to a scene in preparation for regional and tour events. Fun events like Hawaii 5-0, Goalie’s Delight and Pick Your Partner shake things up randomly but offer more than the standard Draw Your Partner. The Amateur only Draw Your Partner tournament added to any weekly schedule. This is a tournament that offers a place for new players to compete and aspiring players to learn. I hope everyone enjoyed this blog article. Please share this article and tell your foosers, tournament directors, and fans of table soccer to follow www.foosballmonk.blogspot.com . Until next time, FOOS ON!!